MSNBC’s Wolffe Repeats Debunked Newsweek Claim of Koran Flushed Down Toilet by Guantanamo Interrogators

Appearing as a guest on Friday’s Countdown show, MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe – formerly of Newsweek – referred to the debunked story that was retracted by Newsweek in May 2005 which had incorrectly claimed that American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had flushed a Koran down a toilet to intimidate Muslim prisoners. But Wolffe did not inform viewers that the story was untrue as he accused conservatives of a double standard for criticizing Newsweek’s inaccurate Koran desecration story from 2005 while not being aggressive enough in condemning Pastor Terry Jones’s declaration that he would burn the Koran on September 11. Wolffe:

I'm struck all the time with this story about the experience of those of us who worked in Newsweek – not the least of whom is Mike Isikoff now at NBC News who wrote a story about the abuse of the Koran in Guantanamo Bay, and there were riots and people died and the overwhelming torrent of abuse from conservative, the echo chamber, more than elected officials I think, certainly from conservative media, was that Newsweek had lied and people died. That's what they said.

Newsweek’s erroneous story inspired riots and a significant number of deaths in 2005 before it was retracted by the magazine, although, as previously documented by the MRC, Newsweek buried its retraction.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, September 10, Countdown show on MSNBC:

KEITH OLBERMANN: The Republicans, on the other hand, are sounding like almost nothing. We reported Tuesday on the deafening silence of the leaders who previously told us, "Listen to General Petraeus," and this time they had nothing to say, and obviously some have broken their silence since, but even then most have been tentative or brief or even offensive at the analysis that, or the analogy I made to Captain Chowdhury, equating the book burning to building buildings. Do you have a perception of what Republicans are trying to do or not do about this issue?

RICHARD WOLFFE: Republicans are in a strange situation now, as well. The politics is weird for them. Remember that, for all the confidence about taking about Congress, there's a certain amount of fear in the Republican party. They're worried about the challenge from the right from the Tea Party, which in the first incident has been directed at fellow Republicans, not at Democrats.

But, you know, if you're going to equate something with Koran burning, you know, I'm struck all the time with this story about the experience of those of us who worked in Newsweek – not the least of whom is Mike Isikoff now at NBC News who wrote a story about the abuse of the Koran in Guantanamo Bay, and there were riots and people died and the overwhelming torrent of abuse from conservative, the echo chamber, more than elected officials I think, certainly from conservative media, was that Newsweek had lied and people died. That's what they said.

And I don't hear similar things now about someone who’s abusing, threatening to abuse the Koran and the kinds of impact that the generals, the commander in chief is saying is going to happen. So if you're going to equate things, let's treat apples with apples.